Entrepreneurs

10 shocking confessions of sexism from Silicon Valley VCs Chris Sacca and Dave McClure

Billionaire Chris Sacca
Courtesy of Collision Conference
Billionaire Chris Sacca

In the wake of Travis Kalanick's resignation following accusations of a sexist, toxic culture at Uber, and Binary Capital co-founder Justin Caldbeck's resignation due to alleged sexual harassment, two high-profile Silicon Valley insiders, Chris Sacca and Dave McClure, have confessed to sexist behavior.

After the Caldbeck revelations, The New York Times wrote a piece that called out Sacca, who recently retired from Lowercase Capital and was a star on ABC's "Shark Tank," and McClure, co-founder of venture fund 500 Startups, as having behaved in sexist and inappropriate ways with women in the industry.

Dave McClure, chief executive officer and founder of 500 Startups.
Justin Chin | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Dave McClure, chief executive officer and founder of 500 Startups.

Sarah Kunst, founder of sports start-up Proday, tells the Times that when she was interviewing for a role with 500 Startups, McClure sent her a message that read, "I was getting confused figuring out whether to hire you or hit on you." When Kunst brought it to the attention of one of McClure's colleagues, 500 Startups ended communications with her, she says.

McClure has now resigned as a result of this and other allegations.

Another woman, Susan Wu, accused Sacca of touching her face without consent in a way that made her uncomfortable at a party in Las Vegas. Sacca disputes the account.

However, the men each spoke out about the roles they played in the sexism that has become pervasive in Silicon Valley, via their respective Medium blogs.

Here are 10 of the most interesting things Sacca and McClure had to say in their posts.

Chris Sacca

1. "Over the last week, I have ... heard from people from my past including stories of how I'd behaved. ... I now understand I personally contributed to the problem."

2. "It has become clear to me there is a much bigger underlying issue in this industry. ... I've learned that it's often the less obvious, yet pervasive and questionable, everyday behaviors of men in our industry that collectively make it inhospitable for women."

3. "By stupidly perpetuating a culture rife with busting chops, teasing, and peer pressure to go out drinking, I made some women feel self-conscious, anxious, and fear they might not be taken seriously."

4. "I looked the other way and didn't speak up at times I should have. I didn't highlight blatantly discriminatory hiring and I didn't call bullshit on overtly gender-biased investing."

5. "The percentage of my portfolio companies run by women and other underrepresented groups is still way too low. This is the result of homogeneity in my deal flow and referral network (i.e. white guys), bias in my decision making, and general ignorance of markets and products outside of my bubble."

Dave McClure

6. "I probably deserve to be called a creep."

7. "I made advances towards multiple women in work-related situations, where it was clearly inappropriate. I put people in compromising and inappropriate situations, and I selfishly took advantage of those situations where I should have known better. My behavior was inexcusable and wrong."

8. "I would like to apologize for being a clueless, selfish, unapologetic and defensive ass."

9. "I'm ashamed I didn't change my behavior until I was forced to do so by circumstance and by others."

10. "When confronted about what happened, I was at first defensive. What did I do wrong? We were just hanging out! Why are people so upset? I tried to present my crappy behavior in the best possible light. ... I rationalized my actions and came up with reasons to find blame in others, rather than solely with me."

Responses to the confessional posts have been mixed.

Kunst had called for McClure's resignation, saying: "I want to live in a world where being in tech doesn't mean having to be harassed or mistreated. We're getting there. Slowly."

Some praised the courage it took the investors to fess up.

"Thanks Chris for taking responsibility where you feel like you've been at fault. That's not an easy thing to do. Thank you for using your voice and your resources to make a dent in this issue. Like you, I want my daughter to have the same opportunities that my son will have, especially in our field," writes Tegan, who works at a digital marketing agency in Dallas.

Others found the apologies too little, too late.

"Why do people think writing an apology like this takes courage?" asks Neelam Chakrabarty, the CEO and co-founder of Oroola, a collaboration platform for parents, in response to McClure's post on Medium.

"In fact it's the simplest way out for such people — say sorry, get some sympathy from folks, and you are on your way to changing the world again! In my opinion, once a creep, always a creep, this doesn't change anything, people. ... [H]e (and other such creeps) will be back in action, doing the same thing. It would have been a sincere apology if he had done it on his own and not waited until he was caught."

This article has been revised and updated.

See also:

Google is still mostly white guys. Why diversity in tech won't change until investors lose money, says tech insider Dan Lyons

Uber's Travis Kalanick isn't the only one—why Steve Jobs, Jack Dorsey and others were ousted from the companies they founded

Ex-Wall Street titan Sallie Krawcheck reveals the jaw-dropping sexual harassment she endured—and why she didn't report it